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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Females

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 12th May 2011.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the British embassy in Kinshasa takes to monitor the situation of women in Eastern Congo; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

To monitor the situation in Eastern Congo, we work with non-governmental organisations and other local and international civil society groups, as well as the UN peacekeeping mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is an important tool in monitoring human rights abuses. The UK also supports the work of Margot Wallström, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Women continue to face extremely high levels of sexual and gender-based violence in DRC. We have consistently lobbied the DRC Government, both bilaterally and with our EU partners, to implement necessary reforms and tackle impunity. Our ambassador to DRC takes every appropriate opportunity to raise the issue of sexual violence against women with the DRC authorities. I visited the DRC in July of last year, and raised concerns about human rights with various DRC Government Ministers. I stressed that the DRC's human rights record must improve. I met Foreign Minister Thambwe and urged the Government of DRC to implement fully President Kabila's “Zero Tolerance” policy on perpetrators of sexual violence. In February I also welcomed the conviction of the senior commander, Lt. Col. Mutuare Daniel Kibibi, and eight other soldiers for their role in the mass rape in the town of Fizi, eastern DRC.

United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN peacekeeping force in the DRC, plays a vital role in improving the security of civilians of the DRC. The UK's position in the UN Security Council has made sure that the priority for the force is protection of civilians.

In November we published our ‘National Action Plan’ to address peace and security for women in DRC under UN Security Council Resolution 1325. This sets out our planned work for the coming year, and seeks to address the problem at all levels, including through security and programmes to support women in DRC. The document is available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, as is ‘Human Rights and Democracy: The 2010 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Report’, in which DRC features as a country of concern:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/human-rights/around-the-world/human-rights-report/

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